Kettled teenagers have case for judicial review rejected

Judge dismissed human rights claims from the three who were held by police in Whitehall during university tuition fees protests

Three "kettled" teenagers who claimed their detention in freezing temperatures without food or water for over six hours during an anti-fees protest in London had breached their human rights had their case for judicial review rejected at the high court.

Judges dismissed the claims by Adam Castle, 16, his sister Rosie, 15, and Sam Eaton, 16, all from north London, who were amongst 10 friends held in a police kettle which ran up Whitehall from the edge of Parliament Square to the Cenotaph last November. Lord Justice Pitchford and Mr Justice Supperstone ruled that the Met commissioner had acted within his powers and the containment action was "necessary, proportionate and lawful".

Representing the three at the initial hearing in July, Martin Westgate QC argued that the operation was unlawful because the Metropolitan police had not prepared a release plan to cope with the presence of minors as young as 11 in breach of its obligations under the Children's Act and of their responsibilities to respect human rights.

Rosie Castle was trapped for about six hours and the boys, who were in court, for seven-and-a-half hours in a crowd of well over 1,500 teachers and students, some in school uniform.

"The claimants were entirely innocent of any misconduct," Westgate said last July. "Other children were also prevented from leaving.''

The case is part of series emanating from the protests that are going through courts.

In their ruling the judges there had been a plan for the release of the vulnerable, including schoolchildren.

"Children were being released through the police cordon throughout the afternoon and evening," they ruled.

The judges also rejected the argument that the duration of the containment made it unlawful.

"While there was a considerable delay beyond the time at which a general dispersal was planned ... we conclude that it was justified by events occurring outside the cordon which required careful handling of those within the containment."

In a statement after the judgement Adam Castle said: "Kettling stands in the way of our freedom to protest and the courts cannot allow the police to treat people in this way."

Michael Oswald, of Bhatt Murphy, the soliciters acting for the group, said the judgement did provide "welcome clarification on the extent of the duties on police" under the 2004 Children's Act. He said that they had asked the court for permission to appeal the decision.

The Met police welcomed the ruling saying that the commander responsible for the release of the vulnerable from the containment gave special consideration to school children'.

They added that policing that day had been "extremely challenging", with damage done to buildings in Whitehall including the Treasury.


Shiv Malik

The GuardianTramp

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